Nigel Buchanan’s Skilful Play with Light and Characteristics

There’s a depth and richness to Nigel Buchanan’s illustrations, his use of light giving his portraits a very real-feeling presence within the scenes that they occupy.

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While Nigel uses dramatic shapes, placing slices of shade across their faces, the mix of this with subtler, more delicate treatment of light and colour creates a really interesting balance.

He is able to bring out the extremes and highlights of facial characteristics without ever crossing over into the realm of caricature, finding them a place all of their own in which to balance. He tells us more below.

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I’m from New Zealand originally, which is where I did my training. The three year course I did in my youth was packed full of the good basic stuff… colour theory, thought process, basic techniques in all sorts of areas, things I still think about and use today.

I got interested in the airbrush way before Photoshop was around, it was the Photoshop of the day.

I liked how you could emulate reality but subvert it by having a crazy concept rendered in a way which made it believable.

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I moved to Sydney, Australia where I have been for many years now, making the jump to digital just as soon as it became easy to use.

I’ll always do my thinking and sketching on paper and scan that into Photoshop as the basis of the final illustration. Keeping the number of digital tools I use to minimum is important to my work; I want it to be seen as a strong image and not be defined by the technique.

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My work has been mostly editorial, but after doing a few covers for the award winning football magazine 8by8, I seem to be doing portraits more and more.

I work in a big shared warehouse space with a bunch of other illustrators and designers, a short walk from where I live.

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sketches1

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© Nigel Buchanan, 2016

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